In a livestreamed video on the PlayStation blog Wednesday morning, Mark Cerny, the lead system architect of the PlayStation 5 (PS5), revealed more details about the upcoming console. While the talk was mostly full of technical jargon, Cerny did speak at length about the philosophy behind console development and a couple new innovations that will be present in the next generation.
According to Cerny, PlayStation had three core principles regarding console development: listening to developers, balancing evolution and revolution, and finding new dreams.
The biggest request from developers for the PS5 was the use of an SSD instead of an hard drive. Cerny called the SSD the “key to the next generation,” stating that while nothing is set in stone just yet, the company is aiming for a five gigabyte read-speed with 16 gigabytes of DDRG RAM.
For consumers, this would mean the elimination of load times, changing game design as developers would no longer have to build in time or areas for players to wait while assets load. Additionally, patch installation will, hypothetically, no longer cause issues with performance or slow down boot up time.
Although the PlayStation 5 will come with an SSD, consumers will have the option to swap it out for a faster M.2 drive. The company will let players know which drives are compatible and recommend for the PS5 at a later date, most likely sometime after launch. Until then, it asks that consumers hold off on purchasing an M.2 drive.
Cerny also addressed the topic of backwards compatibility, confirming that PS5 will be backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 titles. He assured the audience that all iterations of the PS5 should be backwards compatible with PS4 games in the future, unlike the PS3 generation, which saw the company drop backwards compatibility throughout the console generation.
Ray tracing and primitive shaders, all of which should help tremendously with lighting, geometry, and rendering, will be tools available to developers with the PS5. This will help with the level of detail developers are able to achieve and improve particle effects in games.
Additionally, Cerny spent quite a bit of time explaining the company’s approach to audio for the next generation of consoles. PlayStation is focusing on 3D audio for all consumers, regardless of their setup. Developers will have access to hundreds of advanced sound sources, hopefully allowing them to perfect a feeling of “presence and locality.”
In other words, PlayStation wants players to feel like they’re actually totally immersed in the game. Cerny specifically mentioned being able to pinpoint the exact location of an off-screen enemy instead of knowing that they’re vaguely off to the right. He also mentioned virtual surround sound for TV speakers, a technique that will trick players’ ears into hearing sounds from all directions, even though they are only playing with two speakers directly in front of them.
While there is still no official information on the price point or what the box looks like, the PlayStation 5 is slated to come out later this year in time for the 2020 holiday season.
PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny provides a deep dive into PS5’s system architecture and how it will shape the future of games.